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Hilary Hodge: Remember, come Nov. 9 we’re all still in this together

Hilary Hodge

On Nov. 9, we will raise our sleepy heads off our pillows, get out of bed, and have a new president-elect.

There may be changes to our local representatives. There may be news about local ballot issues. In all likelihood, it you are a voter in California, you will still be scratching your head about some of the statewide propositions. There will be disappointment and celebration. There may be a combination of both.

There is a lot at stake in this upcoming election, not just at the presidential level but for local issues as well.

In the next coming weeks, we are likely to see more signs supporting various candidates. We will probably hear more mud-slinging. Our friends on social media will post ever-more urgent updates to Facebook and Twitter about this issue and that issue. There are still three weeks left in what has been a mentally exhausting election year.

Most of the people I know have election fatigue. For many, Nov. 9 can’t get here soon enough. I feel the same way.

I am a vote-at-the-ballot-box voter. I have made a ritual out of Election Day. With every election I wake up, make myself a cup of coffee, and reread my sample ballot just to make sure there wasn’t anything I missed. I like to double-check to see if there is anything I’d like to change my mind about. Then I pack up my sample ballot and walk to my polling place to vote.

My wife and mom, on the other hand, are vote-by-mail voters. They both have already received their ballots, filled them out, and have sent them off. This year, unlike other years, most of the vote-by-mail voters I know sent their ballots back as soon as they got them, almost as though they arrived with a nasty smell and needed to get them out of the house as fast as possible.

Most of the people I know have election fatigue. For many, Nov. 9 can’t get here soon enough. I feel the same way.

This election has been the most divisive election I have ever witnessed. I have never seen more name-calling and heightened language with regard to anything else in memory. During this election cycle I have had people whom I once considered my friends say horrible and inexcusable things to me and my family. I have seen comments, attacking people and communities I care about. I have witnessed friends and families divide themselves and end relationships over political commentary. At some point, this election crossed the line of civility.

On Nov. 9, we will have a new president-elect but we are not likely to have new neighbors. On Nov. 9, our families will still be our blood. Our friends will still be the people we have shared wonderful memories with.

In the New Year, measures and propositions will go into effect. Representatives will go to Sacramento and to Washington D.C. and will hopefully make the right decisions for our state and country. But we will remain here, in our community. We will have to work together and live together, regardless of how we vote on Nov. 8.

After our representatives leave this election cycle, we will be left here to live with each other. We will remain here to help pick up the garbage in our parks, to make music together in our community choirs, to feed our hungry, and to care for our less-fortunate. We will be here to make spaghetti to raise money for our firefighters. We will be here to spend dollars locally to support our small business owners. We will be here to attend our local fundraisers to support the incredible work that our local organizations have dedicated their missions to. On Nov. 9, we will have to look each other in the eye and continue to work and live in this place we all love so much.

Over the course of a person’s lifetime, the next door neighbor is probably more important than whomever the President of the United States happens to be. Our friends and family will do more to shape our lives than any elected official ever will.

I’m not saying that the political isn’t important. It is. The political can be very personal. Thoughtful and informed voting is incredibly important.

As we approach the end of this very contentious election cycle, remember that you will be a part of your community when it is over. You will have to face the people around you. We will all have to work together when this is over. Be kind to your neighbors, coworkers, colleagues, friends and family.

And be sure to vote.

Hilary Hodge lives in Grass Valley. Her column is published by The Union on Tuesdays. Contact her at hhodgewriter@gmail.com.

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